Editor’s column: Ditch Easter weekend double-header and give TV games greater prominence

Super League enjoyed its best supported round on Good Friday – but no sooner had we basked in the glory of it, and the players were back in action.

In the age of player welfare, it is time to scrap the double header weekend at Easter, though we seem to say it every year and it falls on deaf ears.

The quality of the game suffers, not just on the Bank Holiday Monday, but on the following weekend too where there are no games on Thursday or Friday as teams give their players as much time as possible to recover.

One of the most anticipated games of the season – Wigan v St Helens – live on Sky couldn’t be watched by a large portion of the rugby league fanbase as it clashed with 14 other games.

At a time when we are trying to convince broadcasters of the value of rugby league, we need to be maximising viewership.

As many TV games as possible need to be stand alone.

The problem you’ve got is convincing teams to give up their 3pm Good Friday kick-off, or forcing Wigan-Saints to push theirs back to the evening.

It becomes a bit easier if you scrap the double-header, because then you can spread the games out – one on Thursday night, two on Good Friday, two on Saturday and one on Bank Holiday Monday, all televised, for a real Easter feast of rugby league.

Championship and League One games could fill the void on Easter Sunday, or failing that be played on Bank Holiday Monday before or after the televised game.

With two more Bank Holidays to follow over the next six weeks, rugby league really ought to use these to their advantage. You could also say the same about the August bank holiday, which is currently out of bounds due to the Challenge Cup final.

As with most of the issues in rugby league at present, there is far too much self-serving. Clubs reluctant to lose a couple of home fixtures, means we have to persist with the loop fixtures. Likewise, clubs who don’t want to lose the revenue of an Easter home fixture, even though the game may well be better off for it in the long-run.

The debate around rugby league is increasingly hostile that even fans are defensive against any sort of criticism of their team, even if it involves something that needs changing game-wide for the better of rugby league.

Our esteemed colleague from Forty-20 Live, Mark Wilson, got it right on Twitter over the weekend.

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